Lamont Skylark – Love Poems and Fight Songs

Lamont Skylark
Love Poems and Fight Songs

As a Southerner recently exiled to New England, I’ve seen more snow in the last eight days than in the rest of my 26 years combined. When the great white dunes of snow that cover the sidewalks and parking lots grow gray and hard, like sand at a volcanic beach, and when the slush and sludge soak through the first pair of socks and begin to overtake the inner stockings, then one can begin to understand and appreciate why the people of the north are believed to lack the courteousness found in their Southern brethren. There’s little time for niceties and petty civility when it’s freezing out. But during weeks like these, when my environment turns so foreign and hostile that I might as well be living on the moon, it feels good to lie back, the arctic blast sloughed off, and listen to the warm, enriching, and decidedly Southern sounds of Lamont Skylark.
Hailing from Wilmington, N.C., that beautiful coastal town near Fort Fisher, Cape Fear, and the Jolly Dolphin, Lamont Skylark produces jangly power pop suffused with the echoes of country and Western. It’s not quite country and not quite classic rock, but it does have that country spirit, and it definitely rocks in the classical sense. Generally alt-country and modern-day power-pop leaves me sort of cold, but the Skylark possesses a bit of roughness that provides character and a vividness frequently lacking in such music.
Love Poems and Fight Songs lacks the gloss, soullessness, and rote mimicry of much contemporary power pop or country; I would credit the group’s rugged Southern element with nipping that bland shrinkwrapped quality in the bud. The rusticity of the pedal steel and the soul of a good Hammond crop up from time to time, enhancing the Skylark’s traditional instrumentation in predictable yet positive ways. Singer and songwriter Lincoln Morris writes good, if not remarkable, songs, songs that push most of the right buttons and that could foreshadow an eventual period of genius. As is, songs like “How Do You Know,” the rockabilly trot “Daisy,” and the hill country folk of “7 Stills (29)” have to settle for being merely pretty damn good.
Love Poems and Fight Songs gives us a look at a young band with a great deal of potential. I would say that already Lamont Skylark isn’t too far off the level of the Old 97’s or even Uncle Tupelo, and they could one day perhaps grow into a band superior to either of them. Who knows, maybe Morris even has a Yankee Hotel Foxtrot in him somewhere. Wherever their future takes them, however, with their debut album Lamont Skylark has already made a record I’ll be listen to for years to come.